A popular movie star succumbs to the perils of celebrity in I Love Your Work, Adam Goldberg’s meandering cautionary tale about a frazzled actor’s steep plunge into madness. Trapped in a loveless marriage to a fellow thespian (Franka Potente) and surrounded by sycophants and sleazeballs, Gray Evans (Giovanni Ribisi) becomes wracked by the paranoid belief that crazed fans are stalking him. The actor yearns for the ordinary life of admiring video store clerk and aspiring filmmaker John (Joshua Jackson) and his devoted girlfriend Jane (Marisa Coughlan), though his conception of what constitutes normalcy—like his recurring sunshiny visions of a former flame (Christina Ricci)—is unreliably colored by a swirl of memories and movies.
Cinematic fantasies soon engulf the mentally deteriorating Gray, who, like the obsessive authors of his fan mail, longs to live a life not his own, and writer-director Goldberg conveys his protagonist’s state of spiraling psychosis via a grab-bag of grating stylistic affectations including jarring aural and tonal swings, mixed-media footage, and a lyrical, ambient score that editorializes the action. The filmmaker sporadically finds a clever means of blurring the line between reality and silver screen illusion, such as Gray’s transcription of John and Jane’s private conversations transforming, in his deranged mind, into a screenplay that allows him to play the part of happily domesticated boyfriend. Yet what’s lacking is a reason to care about Ribisi’s miserable matinee idol, an egotistical, soused cipher whose easily rectified dilemma (how about quitting acting?) radiates an insufferable stench of woe-is-me self-pity.
Resorting to dreary motifs (red carpet flashbulb attacks that pale in comparison to The Aviator‘s finest sequence) and excruciating exposition (like a TV talk show Gray watches about narcissism), I Love Your Work persistently strives to convey the darker side of the spotlight—a life defined by tabloid-mangled relationships, substance abuse, yes-men, and a general lack of purpose or direction. But since such pitfalls are readily apparent to anyone who’s spent time in our Access Hollywood and Us Weekly-saturated culture, where celebrities’ most trivial personal problems are pored over with relentless fascination, the film finds itself with nothing original to say about superstars’ plight. When Ricci’s dreamgirl, finally fed up with Gray’s insanity, chastises him with “You’re obvious,” it’s a sentiment also applicable to the film itself.